Jeannie Walker

There was a time when people jumped through hoops when the Texas millionaire barked out orders. No one dared to tell him times had changed. When the millionaire rancher discovered his wife and bookkeeper had stolen thousands of dollars from his various bank accounts, he demanded the money back by Memorial day, or else. Instead of getting his money back, the millionaire became very sick from some mysterious illness, within a few weeks he was dead. A week before Memorial Day the rancher ate lunch with his wife and bookkeeper as he often did. Soon after eating his taco salad, the rancher became violently ill, with nausea, vomiting and severe diarrhea. This started a chain of events with the rancher being admitted to the hospital on three different occasions from May 23, 1990 to June 12, 1990. Doctors were mystified as to what was causing this otherwise healthy forty-nine-year-old man to become so deathly ill. The rancher did not smoke or drink and exercised daily. On the rancher's last stay in the hospital toxicology tests showed 4,895 mcg of arsenic in his system. Even while he was a patient in the hospital the arsenic level continued to climb in the rancher's system. The dying man told his friends and everyone within earshot that his wife and bookkeeper were killing him. The man's wife said her husband was hallucinating from the drugs the doctors were giving him. The millionaire rancher became a virtual prisoner when hospital personnel strapped him down to his hospital bed with restraints on his hands and feet. The man's wife and bookkeeper were constantly at the hospital and at the rancher's bedside, keeping visitors at bay. In the last days of his life, the millionaire would scream out that the two women were killing him and beg for someone to help him. On June 12, 1990, the rancher died a horrific and very painful death while still strapped down to the hospital bed with leather restraints on his hands and feet and tubes in every orifice. Immediately after the rancher's death, a doctor called the police anonymously to report the arsenic poisoning death. An autopsy later proved the rancher died from extreme arsenic poisoning. The Death Certificate read: Patient was given arsenic over a period of time until lethal amounts finally killed him. Arsenic poison can be discovered in a skeleton centuries after death. It is known to actually mummify the body. The widow was the sole beneficiary on his $350,000 Life Insurance Policy and his Estate. During the homicide investigation, it was learned a teenager visited the rancher's home just before the rancher died. The youngster became violently ill after he drank cranberry juice that was in the rancher's refrigerator. Weeks later, toxicology tests showed the teenager had arsenic poison in his system. The widow's answers and statements to the investigators raised the hairs on the back of the investigator's neck. The widow seemed to have a lot of dirty laundry. Her story did not wash at all. A thought lingered in the minds of the investigators: If the widow was not responsible for the arsenic poisoning of her husband, then who was? The Sheriff and Texas Ranger believed they knew the answer, but would have to prove it. The widow's modus operandi (MO) just might be the means by which these investigators would get their murderer. And, the Sheriff and Texas Ranger were going to live with this homicide investigation both night and day. It was a murder case the Sheriff would work on and live with until his untimely death from lung cancer. As luck would have it, two years after the rancher's death, the investigators got a much-needed break in the case when a bottle of arsenic was discovered in a storage locker. The storage locker had been rented several months before the rancher's death by the rancher's bookkeeper, under an assumed name. While the law enforcement authorities felt they had all the evidence they needed for prosecution and conviction, the local district attorney declined to prosecute the case. When the local district attorney came up for re-election he lost to a newcomer who promised to prosecute the murder case and get a conviction. People connected to the rancher and knew about his business dealings suddenly began showing up dead. A private investigator was hired by the ex-wife to help with the case. Neighbors, friends and relatives of the dead man believed they knew the widow to be a loving wife. They thought they saw an affectionate and considerate wife, who would do anything to help her husband. But, the police saw the widow in a different light. They believed the marriage had grown stale and a divorce was in the offing. They had an idea that the man's wealth gave the widow a taste for a more exciting lifestyle and she needed him out of the way to retain that lifestyle. They saw the widow as a person who may have wanted to dispose of her husband and may have used at least one accomplice or more to help her achieve that goal. The homicide detectives questioned the widow, but she said she had no idea how arsenic could have entered her husband's body. She said she didn't think her husband had any enemies who would want to see him dead. The murder of the man by arsenic poison might not have been discovered. But, the local police were tipped off by an anonymous call about the suspicious death. The murder case would become the jurisdiction of Clay County. The Clay County Sheriff had been in law enforcement for twenty-five years. He had sixteen years under his belt as a Sheriff. His longevity in office gave him a confidant manner. He believed the widow planned the death of her husband. He also felt the widow had help in poisoning her husband to death. He would document this case like no other before. When this case went to trial he wanted the jury to find the perpetrators of this heinous crime GUILTY beyond a reasonable doubt. The Texas Rangers were called in to help with the homicide investigation. When the Sheriff and Texas Ranger questioned the widow, they both felt she was a mistress of the pat answer. When the investigators asked the widow critical questions, she would come up with different answers to the same critical questions. They knew the widow's habit of repeating verbatim answers was a typical defensive pattern. At a later date, the police, Sheriff and Texas Rangers would surmise the widow plotted to kill her husband in a way that left no physical evidence against her and in a fashion that would be highly undetectable. This wasn't a typical murder or an ordinary homicide investigation. It wasn't an open and shut case like a homicide where the victim was shot or stabbed to death. This was a murder the perpetrator planned on getting away with. It was going to be a hard case to investigate and prove. A death caused by arsenic poisoning could easily mimic or appear to be a natural death caused by some unknown disease. In essence, murder by arsenic could be a perfect murder. With the case at a standstill, the millionaire's ex-wife and mother of his children became a sleuth to help solve the murder. No one could have foretold the strange twists and unexpected results.